Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

Why Soccer Players Lay Down Behind the Wall: The Evolution of a Clever Defensive Tactic

why do soccer players lay down behind the wall

While watching matches in the Champions League and Europe’s top leagues recently, you may have noticed a peculiar defensive tactic employed by teams preparing to defend a free kick on the edge of their box. Players are lying down behind the defensive wall to block low shots. This innovative technique has gained acceptance since 2018 when Inter Milan midfielder Marcelo Brozovic went viral by using it in a Champions League match against Barcelona.

The Origins of the Tactic

The use of an extra barricade behind the defensive wall became common in Brazil to counteract set-piece specialists like Ronaldinho, who often hit free kicks below the wall to catch goalkeepers off guard. Brazilian players such as Lucio Flavio quickly gained a reputation for going beneath the wall, prompting defenders to lay down behind the rest of the wall to impede them. However, skilled attackers like Flavio adapted by bending unstoppable shots over the wall and into the top corner.

Marcelo and Philippe Coutinho Bring the Tactic to Europe

The tactic made its way to Europe when Marcelo, playing for Real Madrid, crouched behind the wall to defend against a Messi free kick during a World Cup qualifier against Argentina in 2016. Three months later, Philippe Coutinho, playing for Liverpool, used the same technique during a Premier League game against Tottenham. The trend quickly spread across the continent.

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Notable Instances of the Tactic

Since then, several players have employed this technique in high-profile matches. Juan Mata stooped on the ground during the 2017 Europa League final, Joshua Kimmich did a full “long border” while playing for Germany in a Nations League game, and Neal Maupay hunkered down behind his teammates in the wall during a Carabao Cup match against Manchester United. The trend has also been observed in Italian, Russian, and Spanish leagues, among others.


Why do soccer players lay down behind the wall?

Soccer players lie down behind the wall to block low shots that may be aimed underneath the jumping defenders in the wall. This defensive tactic has proven effective in preventing goals from free kicks.

Who started the trend of lying down behind the wall?

The trend originated in Brazil, where players had to counteract set-piece specialists like Ronaldinho. Lucio Flavio and Ronaldinho were among the first players to use this technique consistently in matches.

How widespread is the use of this tactic?

The tactic has gained acceptance and popularity in Europe’s top leagues and competitions, with players from various clubs and national teams employing it regularly.


The practice of soccer players lying down behind the wall has evolved from a clever defensive strategy used by Brazilian players to a widespread trend employed by players in Europe and across the globe. This innovative tactic has proven effective in blocking low shots and thwarting the intentions of free-kick takers. As soccer continues to evolve, we can expect more creative strategies like this to be developed and utilized on the field.

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